THE Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) yesterday threatened taking legal action against government over unfair labour practices, including ordering them to report for duty without protective clothing against COVID-19.
Zimta was reacting to Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema’s remarks that government would recruit 25 000 temporary teachers to replace striking teachers.
“Zimta has observed with serious concern the statements attributed to Minister Cain Mathema about the welfare of teachers and the intention by government to recruit 25 000 temporary teachers to conduct school examinations,” part of the statement released yesterday read.
“The association is in the process of taking urgent legal action in order to protect its members and the generality of the teaching profession and community including the would be temporary teachers from acts designed to undermine the right of teachers against victimisation and the threat to the constitutionally protected right to collective bargaining and decent living standards.”
It added: “Minister Mathema’s demand that teachers present themselves and teach examination classes in the absence of protective equipment and COVID-19 testing of teachers undermines the right to a fair and safe labour practice and standard and thereby endangers the teaching community at large including the learners and their families.
“The demand by the minister is unconstitutional and in breach of section 65(1) of our Constitution.
“It is the association’s position that an employer cannot compel an employee to work under unsafe conditions with the threat that failure to do so will result in the teachers being replaced by temporary teachers.”
Most teachers failed to report for duty on Monday when schools reopened for the examination classes. Government teachers earn around $3 800 per month, which is US$43,20 at the current auction rate.
Government this week gave teachers a 40% cost of living adjustment, but the educators have declined it, insisting on US$520 or its equivalent.